The Hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium) or Ialus fáil in Irish and the Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) or Ainleog in Irish are blooming now. (1a;1b) The former, which can grow to a height of three metres can be seen in hedges, woodland edges and waste ground; the latter is much shorter at a maximum height of 60cm and is found on waste and cultivated ground, roadsides, railway tracks, fields and gardens.
Hedge bindweed flowers are trumpet-shaped and 3cm to 7cm in diameter. They are usually a brilliant white, but they can be pink with white stripes that act as bee guidelines. They are quite striking and beautiful. (2)
Field bindweed flowers are much smaller with diameters ranging from 2cm to 3cm. They have the same colouration as its larger relative.
The flowers of both attract many insects with the hedge bindweed also attracting hawkmoths.
Both are considered very invasive weeds in gardens because they spread by thick, creeping white rhizomes underground. If these are broken by digging new plants are produced.
Both have triangular, arrow-shaped leaves. (3) Their wiry, twining stems twist around other nearby plants and can smother them. Their roots penetrate deeply into the ground, sometimes as far as 5m.
The garden relative of field bindweed is Morning glory (Ipomoea spp.) (4) This is a beautiful half-hardy annual which uses its weak stems to climb up other plants. It has heart shaped leaves and the funnel-shaped, scented flowers can be blue, purple, purple-blue, pink, white, magenta or red. Like its wild relatives, these open in the morning and close in the afternoon.